Purchasing software and systems for a business is a complicated matter that requires a lot of planning and investigation before a decision can be made. Something as complex as a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system will be extremely difficult to buy based on only one meeting with the company and a spec sheet. The only way to get a good feel for the system on offer is a demonstration.
This can be a time-consuming operation, but it’s critical. Cancelling or changing after discovering you have made the wrong choice will take more time and money. There are many ways to ensure the demonstration is productive, informative, and efficient. Take note of the following factors to get the maximum benefit from your next ERP demonstration.
Include the Users
Although your selection is a big decision, it is important that you have representatives from all relevant departments using the system on a daily basis. This is not a decision IT and procurement can make in isolation. Signing up for an ERP demo is a great time to touch base with different teams and departments to evaluate their specific needs and desires. By working closely with key managers, you can come up with questions and comments to bring up during the actual demonstration. Brief them beforehand so they understand the concept, know what to look for, and what concerns they need to have addressed during the ERP demo.
Make a Short List of Qualified Vendors
There are many vendors out there and as many great products. Not all will be suitable for your business environment, and you cannot see all of them. Tech Republic recommends doing extensive background research and probing to narrow the demonstrations down to the three or four promising possibilities. You should have a good indication of the features, flexibility, and competence. It is also critical to know that the proposed solution is within budget range; otherwise, you are wasting your time.
Brief the Demonstrator
ERP systems are complex and offer a wide range of features and benefits. As Business News Daily writes, ERP costs can run up quickly if you don’t pinpoint what your company needs and clearly convey it. By making your specific requirements and expectations clear to the potential vendor, he or she will be in a much better position to present a relevant and meaningful demonstration without wasting time on features of little relevance to you.
Put your expectations and requirements in writing and get the salesperson to confirm they are clear on what you and your team need from the demo. A crisp, clear and relevant demonstration will keep you engaged and will make comparing various offers that much easier.
Allow Site Visits
The prospective vendors should be allowed scheduled access to your business and the various department heads to gain a better understanding of current operations and where their product can be improved. What follows from the above point is how prepared the demonstrator is, the more productive the experience will be for both parties.
Give the vendor and your internal staff sufficient time to prepare. You want to get everything done in one sitting without having to have follow-up meetings. If both sides are well prepared, everyone can avoid additional meetings and hassle.
Schedule enough time for the demonstration. Based on your written expectations, get an idea from the vendors’ representative how long he or she needs. Leave time for questions from your team. You don’t want to be chasing the salesperson out the door having received only half the information because the next vendor is waiting.
Standardizing the competition is another consideration. In other words, give each vendor the same specific instructions so you can compare them accurately. Take notes during the demonstration in case you need to refer to them later. Also, make a note of the number of steps involved in the various processes.
Enterprise resource planning is all about streamlining, interconnecting, and speeding up processes. By vetting ERP demonstrations to find a good fit for your company, you’re poised to take your operations to the next level.